This is the second year the church is running the initiative and Lt. Melissa Bonet, a corps officer at the Ridgewood branch, said there has been a great deal of interest already.
“We’ve had 40 people register so far, but there’s still a week to go so we will definitely hit the 75,” Bonet said.
Last year the church managed to give away 30 backpacks, and Bonet attributes this year’s success to the generous donations of her congregation.
“We raised the funds through donations which we began raising by sending out a flyer to the church members. I believe pastors must lead by example, so my husband and I sponsor four children each, and we asked our members to sponsor two children,” Bonet said.
Bonet said that many parents were already feeling the pinch and are struggling further with back-to-school costs this year.
“Last year it was slightly easier as children were still learning remotely, but this year all children will be back to school,” Bonet said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul updated COVID-19 guidance for schools on Monday, Aug. 22: Students who test positive will have to isolate for five days before returning to school. Those who are exposed to the virus and are asymptomatic no longer have to quarantine.
“No more quarantining, no more test-to-stay, and the days of sending an entire classroom home because one person is symptomatic or tests positive are over,” Hochul said.
Bonet also mentioned that many parents in the community are facing increased rents and crippling costs.
“A lot of parents are behind on rent and bills. We’re asking people to come next Tuesday to be able to help them and let them know that we’re here for them. We also hope to let people know that we have other programs, like the food pantry, for them to take part in if they need it,” Bonet said.
Any parent interested in the initiative is encouraged to send their child’s name, age and birth certificate to [email protected] before Tuesday, Aug. 30. The backpacks and school supplies will be given out at the Ridgewood branch at 4 p.m.